Marimekko is widely known for its bold and vivacious patterns, but few are as memorable—or have as rich a story—as the Unikko print. With its candy-apple-red hue and painterfly, oft-misshapen flower petals, the botanic pattern that has become synonymous with the Finnish brand is both unique and distinctive. To put it simply, it's hard to miss. And although the company has branched out to other endeavors (most notably, its recent collaboration with Banana Republic on a range of dotty designs), it's the Unikko print that remains the most easily identifiable, and quintessentially Marimekko, of them all.
The pattern, which translates to "poppy" in Finnish, came to be after founder Armi Ratia publicly condemned floral patterns, believing that they pale in comparison to those found in nature. Fortunately, then-designer Maija Isola decided to rebel against Ratia's wishes and painted a series of flowers in protest. Once Ratia saw Isola's designs, she appreciated them for the new, graphic patterns that they were, and immediately included them in her collection. And the print, now Marimekko's most iconic to date, has remained there ever since.
So it comes as no surprise that, to celebrate Unikko's 50th anniversary, the label is launching a capsule collection of clothing, housewares, and various fabrics adorned with the pattern as a special form of tribute (available online at us.marimekko.com). And it doesn't stop there: For years, the print has been spotted all over the world, commanding eyes wherever it has traveled. "There's a happiness surrounding the print," womenswear designer Mika Piirainen tells InStyle. "It's incredibly versatile and has the ability to be shown in so many ways."
A grandiose hot-air balloon emblazoned with the Unikko pattern parachuted over the capital of Finland as part of Marimekko’s 60th anniversary celebrations in 2011.
2. UP IN THE AIR
The vibrant print zipped through the air on the side of a Finnair flight flying between Helsinki, Finland, and Asia in 2012.
3. HONG KONG
Marimekko's worldwide celebrations continued in China, where its newly opened Hong Kong store fêted its launch in 2012 by decorating a public tram with the print.
The Unikko print appeared on one of Boston's historic trolley cars in May 2013.
5. NEW YORK CITY
Later that same year, the print adorned a double-decker bus in the Big Apple.
Models traipsed down the outdoor runway at Unikko's breathtaking Esplanade Show in Helsinki this year sporting the print in a range of vivid hues.
The print could be spotted on seats and umbrellas around the front of Beijing's Taikoo Li Sanlitun South Mall in 2014.
8. WASHINGTON, D.C.
An installation of Unikko artworks was shown at the Finnish Embassy in the nation's capital earlier this year.